Governors who are members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are strategising ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari’s return to the country today as the battle over direct primary adopted by the National Assembly has been shifted to the presidency.
The National Assembly had last Tuesday passed the harmonised version of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill. The clean copy of the draft law is expected to be transmitted to President Buhari tomorrow for assent.
Aside from the approval of direct primary as the sole mode for political parties to select candidates, the parliament also empowered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the procedure for the transmission of election results.
While governors, especially those who are members of the APC are against the mode of primary, the lawmakers, majority of them members of the ruling party, are pushing for it. It is believed that direct primary, if assented to, would reduce the influence of governors in the selection of candidates of political parties.
The direct primary mode enables all members of a political party to participate in the selection of candidates of the party through polls. On the other hand, the indirect primary, allows party members to elect delegates who in turn elect the party’s candidates on their behalf.
Following the tension in the ruling party over the matter, an emergency tripartite committee meeting, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja last Tuesday.
Though the presidency, through the Political Adviser to the President, Babafemi Ojudu, said the issue was resolved, sources at the Villa said the matter was still hanging as the two parties maintained their positions.
“We are all waiting for the arrival of the president. It is the president that has the final say on the matter. If he likes it, he would assent to it and if he doesn’t, he would reject it,” one of the sources said.
Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State had last week faulted the National Assembly for not providing alternatives to direct primary.
“The only concern is the implication of having only one option. In case an option fails what happens? If for instance, INEC sets a date for election and you can’t shift, what you do. And if circumstances beyond your control arise what do we do?” Bello said at the end of the meeting last week.
Meanwhile, the Presidency on Monday kept mum on the matter. The two presidential aides on National Assembly, Sen. Babajide Omoworare (Senate) and Hon. Umar El Yakub (House), neither picked their calls nor replied to text messages sent to them on the matter.
The House spokesman, Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia), had said the clean copy of the bill would be transmitted to the president within seven days of its passage. It was passed on Tuesday.